Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Begin End Event Description Keywords Related Events
1337 1386

First Phase of the 100 Years' War

Political reasons, feudal disputes between England and France, and the striving for economic power were the main causes of this series of wars which erupted in 1337. What followed was not constant warfare, but rather a series of campaigns and battles with long interruptions of diplomatic negotiations and truces. After the death of the Black Prince in 1376 and his father in 1377, the young king Richard II and his regents were no longer capable of waging war against France; fighting ended in 1386 and a truce of 30 years was signed in 1396.

The 25th of May 1337 marks the beginning of the 100 Years' War, because on that day, the French king Philip VI, invaded the duchy of Guienne in South Western France, which at the time was held by the English king, Edward III, as a feudal fief. Since the times of William the Conqueror, the English monarchy had posed a more or less serious threat to the French kings by the Norman and Plantagenet control over large feudal fiefs in France. Over time, the French kings had succeeded in regaining authority over those territories. Furthermore, the French had always helped Scotland in the wars against England, thus threatening the realm from the North. Another cause of aggression between England and France was their rivalry for the trade of Flanders and the control of the Channel; in other words, political reasons, feudal disputes, and the striving for economic power were the main causes of this series of wars which lasted until 1453.

Superficially, the immediate pretext for war was Edward III's claim to the French throne. Edward's mother was the sister of the French king Charles IV, so Edward saw himself as the legitimate heir of the French king. This struggle of power was followed by a series of battles, diplomatic negotiations and truces.

In 1338 Edward III invaded Northern France and later, in 1340, he won a decisive naval battle near Sluys in the Scheldt esturary. He nearly destroyed all the French naval forces and made the French king agree to a truce, which Edward however broke himself when he invaded France again in 1345.

The battle of Crécy was the first great English land victory over the French (1346) where especially the longbow archers inflicted terrible losses on the French army.

After Crécy, military action ceased until 1355 when Edward the Black Prince, the king's eldest son, captured Bordeaux and raided Southern France for several months. It was also the Black Prince who won the second great English victory of the 100 Year's War at the Battle of Poitiers on September 19, 1356, where Philip's successor, King John II of France, and the Duke of Burgund were captured and led to London, to be held in chivalrous captivity until a ransom was paid.

The economic consequences of the plague, as well as heavy taxation, led to a tense political situation in England: after the death of the Black Prince in 1376 and his father in 1377, the young king Richard II and his regents were no longer capable of waging war against France - the war ended in 1386 and a truce of 30 years was signed ten years later.
History, Middle English Period, Political, 100 Years War